You can make your own garam masala really easily. Every city must have good spice shop (don’t buy the brands in jars unless you can help it). Just take cumin seeds, cardamom (get the little black seeds out from the husks), fennel seeds, nigella (for the anise flavour), a little cinnamon stick to add sweetness, dried chillies and curry powder will do nicely. You turn it into a powder which is easiest in a hand blender or coffee grinder, but you’ll get some good exercise using a pestle and mortar.
Peel a dozen or so baby onions and fry them in extra virgin olive oil with a few cloves of garlic (chop it nice and large – don’t use a press or crusher, they just make it very strong and give you bad breath) in a heavy-bottomed pan. When they are toasting nicely, add a bag of lentils and as much of your garam masala mix as to your taste – be bold! Once the ingredients are a bit sautéed and the yellow, sticky, spicy mix is sticking to the bottom of the pan, start adding stock (as always a quality bouillon mix is great) and let it simmer.
As the lentils expand, absorbing the liquid, keep pouring in the stock until they are soft. Then add the chard – if you like here you can add some prawns too. I use Rainbow chard because the colours are so vibrant. At the end, throw in a handful of freshly chopped coriander or parsley. You can serve it with yoghurt mixed with some of your spices.Articles chard, garam masala, lentils, prawns